The long readWhat is a black professor in America allowed to say?
Thursday 3 August 2017 01.00 EDT
One Thursday morning in May, Tommy J Curry walked through the offices of the philosophy department at Texas A&M University with a police officer at his side and violence on his mind. The threats had started a few days earlier. “Since you said white people need to be killed I’m in fear of my life,” one person had written via email. “The next time I see you on campus I might just have to pre-emptively defend myself you dumb fat nigger. You are done.” Curry didn’t know if that person was lurking on the university grounds. But Texas is a gun-friendly state, and Texas A&M is a gun-friendly campus, and he took the threat seriously.
Lose yourself in a great story: Sign up for the long read email Read moreCurry supports the right to bear arms. It was part of how he ended up in this situation. In 2012 he had appeared on a satellite radio show and delivered a five-minute talk on how uneasy white people are with the idea of black people talking about owning guns and using them to combat racist forces. When a recording of the talk resurfaced in May, people thought the tenured professor was telling black people to kill white people. This idea swept through conservative media and into the fever swamps of Reddit forums and racist message boards. The threats followed.
Anonymous bigots weren’t the only ones making Curry feel unwanted. Michael K Young, the president of Texas A&M, had called the professor’s comments “disturbing” and contrary to the values of the university. Curry was taken aback. His remarks on the radio were not a regrettable slip of the tongue. They were part of why the university had hired him.
A police officer met Curry inside his academic building and rode with him in the elevator to the philosophy department, on the third floor. In a hallway, the professor pointed to photos of his graduate students so the police officer would know who was supposed to be there. The officer told him to keep an eye out for unfamiliar faces. Curry picked up his mail. There were a few angry letters, and also an envelope marked with a Texas A&M logo. He put the hate mail into a folder and carried the whole bundle downstairs. Back in the car with his wife, he opened the university envelope. Inside was a copy of a letter from a campus official that he had received a few days earlier by email – before his inbox was flooded with racist messages.
JFK Assassination Plot Author Jim Marrs Dead At 73
Read more: http://woai.iheart.com/content/2017-08-03-jfk-assassination-plot-author-jim-marrs-dead-at-73/#ixzz4oi9lDqPx
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Link du jour
Study finds human influence in the Amazon's third 1-in-100 year drought since 2005
Posted on 3 August 2017 by John AbrahamIf you are like me, you picture the Amazon region as an ever lush, wet, tropical region filled with numerous plant and animal species. Who would imagine the Amazon experiencing drought? I mean sure, if we think of drought as “less water than usual,” then any place could have a drought. But what I tend to envision with respect to drought is truly dry.
People who work in this field have a more advanced understanding than I do about drought, how and why it occurs, its frequency and severity, and the impact on natural and human worlds. This recognition brings us to a very interesting paper recently published in Scientific Reports, entitled Unprecedented drought over tropical South America in 2016: significantly under-predicted by tropical SST[sea surface temperature]. So, what did this paper show?
Well, the Amazon region does encounter periodic droughts. There was one in 2005, another in 2010, both of which were 100-year events, and the most recent one in 2015-2016. The authors of this study, Amir Erfanian, Guiling Wang, and Lori Fomenko, all from the University of Connecticut, measured drought in three ways. They quantified the precipitation deficits and water storage on the ground. They also used two different vegetation measures of drought. The results showed that the most recent drought was unprecedented in severity. The video below shows a brief visual overview of the findings of this paper:
But the authors really wanted to know why the drought occurred in the first place and why it was so severe. Droughts in the Amazon region are mainly driven by surface water temperatures in the neighboring oceans, particularly in the El Niño/La Niña region. So, the authors looked at the relationship between changes in precipitation and sea surface temperatures in tropical oceans. They found that warmer than usual water in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was the main driver for the reduced rainfall during the three extreme droughts in the past decade.
The authors also found that the water temperatures alone could not adequately explain the size and severity of the 2015-2016 drought. This suggests that there are other factors involved as well. To be clear, the authors found that the relationship between water temperatures and drought worked well for prior droughts (the 2005 and 2010 droughts as well as 1983 and 1998 droughts, also El Niño years) but fell apart in 2015-2016. That is, using the relationship, the predicted 2015-2016 drought should not have been nearly as severe or as large as it was. The paper also reports that the 2015-2016 drought clearly exceeded that of the 100-year events in 2005 and 2010. So, in approximately one decade, this zone has had three 100-year events. Quite astonishing.
So why was SST unable to explain the 2015-2016 drought, like it had for past events? Part of it has to do with land-use changes. That is, human changes to the land surface such as deforestation. Another part is related to warming from greenhouse gases. It is clear that land-use changes can affect drought. As farmers deforest, for instance, they convert woodlands and forests into agricultural land. This changes not only the darkness (reflectivity) of the land, but it also impacts the transfer of water to and from the atmosphere (evapotranspiration).
One might ask how warming affects droughts. As air temperatures increase, air is able to evaporate water more rapidly and dry out surfaces. At the same time, air can contain more water vapor so that when rain does occur, it is more often in heavy downpours. These two changes underlie what is referred to as an accelerated hydrological cycle. Simply put, man-made warming is accelerating the movement of water through the ecosystem, which can cause drought even if precipitation does not decrease. Warming also causes changes in the large-scale patterns of air motion (atmospheric circulation) that reduces rainfall in this region.
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Secret Service to Test Drone to Protect Trump at His Golf Course
drone-1142182_960_720By Steve Neavlingticklethewire.com
As the Secret Service looks for new ways to protect President Trump while he is vacationing at his New Jersey golf club, the agency will test a security drone.
Reuters reports that the Secret Service plans to test a small tethered unmanned aircraft system this month while the president is visiting the Trump National Golf Club in
Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin goes over notes while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Mnuchin built his reputation and his fortune as a savvy Wall Street investor but critics charge that he profited from thousands of home foreclosures as the chief of a sub-prime mortgage lender during the housing
TREASURY SECRETARY STEVE MNUCHIN ALLEGEDLY LIED UNDER OATH. WILL THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATEDavid DayenAugust 2 2017, 2:56 p.m.
A WATCHDOG ORGANIZATION has asked the Justice Department to investigate Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for allegedly making repeated false statements to Congress about the conduct of OneWest Bank, where he served as CEO and later chair between 2009 and 2015.
In the letter, the Campaign for Accountability writes, “Even today, Americans have a right to expect that those who seek and hold top government positions will not lie to their elected representatives and that if they do, the consequences will be swift and severe.”
On three separate occasions, both in written testimony and in live hearings, Mnuchin has denied that OneWest engaged in robosigning of foreclosure documents, when copious evidence exists to the contrary. Most recently, Mnuchin appears to have lied about robosigning while under oath last week in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., confronted Mnuchin with the 2009 deposition of Erica Johnson-Seck, a OneWest vice president who admitted that her team of eight employees robosigned 6,000 affidavits a week attesting to verifying mortgage files while spending “not more than 30 seconds” reviewing the underlying material. Mnuchin replied defiantly, “I don’t think you know what robosigning is,” insisting there is no legal definition, and denied that there was any robosigning at OneWest, “for the record.”
Previously, in written answers for the record to Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., in January, in conjunction with his confirmation hearings, Mnuchin stated “OneWest did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” and then when given a chance to clean up his answer, he maintained his denial. In fact, despite his claim last week that “robosigning is not a legal term,” Mnuchin provided such a definition to Casey, saying it referred to “(a) a signer of a foreclosure affidavit attested to facts that were not verified to be accurate; or (b) a signer of a foreclosure affidavit represented himself or herself to be someone else.”
Johnson-Seck admitted to both things. She attested to facts in foreclosure cases without verifying them in any way; in response to the question “Is it true that you don’t read each document before signing it,” she replied “That’s true.” She also represented herself as having the authority to sign documents for at least seven different financial institutions. In fact, the late Brooklyn judge Arthur Schack once threw out a OneWest foreclosure because Johnson-Seck had both assigned a mortgage to Deutsche Bank and executed an affidavit on behalf of Deutsche Bank, appearing as multiple officers in the same case.
In addition, the Columbus Dispatch found frequent instances of robosigning in Franklin County, Ohio, including three cases in 2010 where “a judge dismissed OneWest foreclosure proceedings specifically based on inaccurate robosignings.” A Reuters investigation in 2011 also alleged that OneWest issued “foreclosure documents of questionable validity.”
And a report assembled by the Florida attorney general’s office in 2010 includes a mortgage assignment signed by a representative of “IndyMac Bank,” OneWest’s predecessor, and dated July 2010, well after IndyMac closed down. The assignment was clearly “robosigned” by an employee claiming to work for IndyMac when it would have been impossible for them to do so.
None of this is surprising because it was the standard practice of every bank engaged in foreclosure operations at that time. For some reason, the campaign claims, Mnuchin doesn’t want to admit to a practice that most banks have acknowledged and paid billions of dollars in fines for.
“Sec. Mnuchin’s dissembling was shameful enough when he served as a CEO,” the Campaign for Accountability writes, “but once he began repeating this obvious untruth to Congress, Sec. Mnuchin crossed the line into potentially criminal conduct.” Indeed, it is a federal crime to commit perjury or make a “false or misleading statement” to Congress.
The Justice Department is, of course, highly unlikely to investigate Mnuchin’s statements. This is especially the case given the questionable assertions made to Congress by its leader, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that he had not met with any representatives of Russia during the Trump campaign.
Nevertheless, the Campaign for Accountability raised the complaint because of the principle of the rule of law. In the letter they cite federal Judge Barrington Parker, who in 1977 fined CIA Director Richard Helms and gave him a suspended prison term for lying to Congress about CIA operations in Chile. “Public officials at every level, whatever their
Attorney general threatens to punish Stockton and San Bernardino as 'sanctuary cities'
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